Updated: Jul 19
This current heatwave is tough for anyone, but it's extra hard for people with chronic illnesses. Not only can the heat exacerbate our symptoms, but our illnesses can make us more susceptible to harmful effects from the heat.
We also know that people with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Long Covid can have difficulty regulating body temperature, so it's even more important that we take steps to stay cool in this weather. Here are some tips that might be helpful:
Stay hydrated! It’s very easy to become dehydrated in the hot weather, so make sure you drink plenty of water. Be sure to also get enough salts, as you will sweat them out - especially if you experience POTS, Orthostatic Hypotension or low blood pressure.
Close the curtains. Even if you are keeping the windows open, it helps to keep the curtains closed while the sun is on the windows. It can also be helpful to tape aluminium foil to your windows to reflect the heat back out. If the air outside is hotter than inside, it is better to keep your windows closed!
Electric Fans. Sometimes feels like they are just stirring the heat around, but placing near open windows can help a bit. Placing a bowl of iced water in front of the fan can help to circulate cooler air.
Cold water and cold packs. Try running a cold tap over your wrists to cool down, or splashing your ears with cold water. This works because the blood vessels are close to the surface there. Alternatively, soak your feet in cold water.
Clothes in the fridge! Run cold water onto a scarf or towel and wring out until damp, then place in the fridge. Later, you can wrap around your neck & shoulder to keep cool. You can also do this with t-shirts or socks.
Limit activity. While you may already be pacing, in the hot weather it can help to slow things down further and take time to rest a bit longer. If possible, move to the coolest room or into the shade when resting, lay down and keep your feet slightly elevated.
Wear sunglasses. Not exactly about keeping cool, or even looking cool, but don’t forget your eyes are susceptible to UV light (just like your skin). Try to get sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB. If you wear glasses, try clip-ons or an over-glasses design.
Credit: Becca Gransbury
We've received some wonderful tips from our members!
I have 2x 2L bottles of frozen water that I swap out every few hours. Wrapped in a tea towel and wedged somewhere there's a lot of blood near the surface of your skin (e.g. underarms or inner thighs) they work really well! They stay icy for 5+ hours too - Nicola
I've got a shallow cold water in my bath so I can have a paddle and flick water about when I get up. Towels over the windows as well as curtains, full 2l water bottle with ice to hug in the night.... Wishing for Wednesday..... - Ro Sea
Cool tip - fill a hot water bottle from the cold tap and leave in the fridge for a bit. - Saleema
I use a plant spray full of ice cold water and spray the bedroom, my bed and myself at night to help keep cool. I fill my hot water bottle with cold water and place in the freezer by day and take it to bed with me at night. A cool bath of water - only need an inch or two just to splash over yourself before trying to settle for the night. - Lyn
The UK gov web site has lots of information that might help others: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england/beat-the-heat-staying-safe-in-hot-weather - Angela